PG&E rates to rise nearly 13% after state regulators vote

FILE - A PG&E helicopter inspects power lines near Forest Hill, California.

FILE – A PG&E helicopter inspects power lines near Forest Hill, California.

San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst N/San Francisco Chronicle via Gett

After the new plan goes into effect, customers will pay an average of $30 to $35 more per month. The change begins Jan. 1, meaning some customers won’t see the new rate until they receive their bill in February, PG&E said in a news release.

Thursday’s vote resolved PG&E’s General Rate Case (GRC). This is a public review process that the company must complete every four years with the CPUC. PG&E’s GRC application is for a three-year period, from 2023 to 2026.

The utility first proposed the rate increase in June 2021, saying the increased rates would help provide “safe and reliable service” and reduce the risks associated with wildfires. The plan approved Thursday is an alternative proposal from CPUC Commissioner John Reynolds, the CPUC said in a news release.

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A key part of PG&E’s wildfire risk reduction plan is “burying,” or placing power lines below the surface, in areas most at risk from fires. Thursday’s plan will fund the undergrounding of 1,230 miles of lines, PG&E said, which will help reduce the risk of wildfires from company equipment by 94%. The CPUC said in its press release that in addition to lowering interest rates, inflation was “among the primary drivers of PG&E’s request” to increase rates.

Under Thursday’s plan, the CPUC approved a $13.5 billion revenue requirement for PG&E for 2023, instead of the company’s original $15.4 billion revenue requirement, the commission said. The CPUC also said PG&E originally requested an increase in the total bill for the typical residential customer of $38.73, or 17.9%. The plan approved Thursday represents an increase of $32.62, or 12.8%.

This isn’t the first time in the past year that PG&E has increased its rates. In January, the company informed customers of higher bills due to high heating needs as temperatures dropped, the company said in a press release. At the time, the utility predicted that energy bills from November 2022 to March 2023 would be more than 30% higher than the same period last year.

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